Constipation

Find comfort from constipation, a change in normal bowel habits characterized by a decrease in frequency and passage of hard, dry stools. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

Supplement Amount Why
Cascara
20 to 30 mg of cascarosides per day for no more than ten days 3 stars [3 stars]
Cascara is considered a stimulant laxative because it stimulates bowel muscle contractions. Cascara has a milder action compared to other stimulant herbs.
Flaxseed
1 Tbsp (15 ml) whole or ground with a full glass of water, one or two times per day 3 stars [3 stars]
Flaxseed is a mild bulk-forming laxative that’s best suited for long-term use in people with constipation.
Glucomannan
3 to 4 grams daily in water, followed by a second glass of water 3 stars [3 stars]
Glucomannan is a water-soluble dietary fiber that has shown to be effective as a bulk-forming laxative.
Psyllium
5 to 10 grams daily in water, followed by a second glass of water 3 stars [3 stars]
Psyllium is a mild bulk-forming laxative that’s best suited for long-term use in people with constipation.
Senna
20 to 60 mg of sennosides per day for no more than ten days 3 stars [3 stars]
Senna is considered a stimulant laxative because it stimulates bowel muscle contractions. Senna is the most popular of these stimulant herbs.
Alder Buckthorn
20 to 30 mg of anthraquinone glycosides (calculated as glucofrangulin A) per day 2 stars [2 stars]
Alder buckthorn is considered a stimulant laxative because it stimulates bowel muscle contractions.
Aloe
Refer to label instructions 2 stars [2 stars]
Aloe is considered a stimulant laxative because it stimulates bowel muscle contractions. Aloe is very potent and should be used with caution.
Basil
Take as tea (2 tsp in 2 cups of water), or as a tincture or capsules (follow label instructions) 2 stars [2 stars]
Basil seed has been found to relieve constipation by acting as a bulk-forming laxative in one preliminary study.
Buckthorn
20 to 30 mg of anthraquinone glycosides (calculated as glucofrangulin A) daily 2 stars [2 stars]
Buckthorn is considered a stimulant laxative because it stimulates bowel muscle contractions.
Probiotics
6.5 billion colony-forming units of Lactobacillus casei Shirota 2 stars [2 stars]
Research has shown that the probiotic strain Lactobacillus casei Shirota may help relieve chronic constipation after two weeks of supplementation.
Rhubarb
Follow label instructions 2 stars [2 stars]
Rhubarb is considered a stimulant laxative because it stimulates bowel muscle contractions.
Bladderwrack
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Alginic acid, one of the major constituents in bladderwrack, is a type of dietary fiber that may be used to relieve constipation.
Chlorophyll
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Chlorophyll, the substance responsible for the green color in plants, has been shown to ease chronic constipation in elderly people.
Dandelion
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
The bitter compounds in dandelion leaves and root are also mild laxatives.
Fenugreek
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Fenugreek is a mild bulk-forming laxative that’s best suited for long-term use in people with constipation.
Fo-Ti
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
The unprocessed roots of fo-ti possess a mild laxative effect.
Psyllium

(Parkinson’s Disease)
3 to 5 grams taken at night with a one to two glasses of fluid 1 star [1 star]
Preliminary research has shown that psyllium seed husks improve constipation and bowel function in people with Parkinson’s disease and constipation.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.